Instagram has long been a favorite app of the filter-using, brunch-photographing, snap-happy mobile crowd. From its humble beginnings as a quick-and-easy way to share retro-style photographs with friends, it’s now evolved into what some consider an art form in and of itself.
While some professional photographers still shun the platform, others have tapped into its popularity as a way to expand their own photographic horizons. Chip Somodevilla, a Getty Images photographer traveling with President Obama and covering the 2012 presidential election from behind his lens, is among those professional shooters who have jumped on the Instagram bandwagon. Why?
“Because I’m a deadline news photographer, immediacy is a very big part of how I work,” wrote Somodevilla in an e-mail to Mashable. “Instagram started as a fun and informal way for me to share personal images with friends, family and colleagues. When I started covering the presidential primaries I found the phone and the apps to be a second way to share a more personal vision of what I was seeing and experiencing on the trail.”
While some photographers might shun Instagram and other mobile camera apps because of their filters or other manipulation tools, Somodevilla embraces them as another set of tools in his digital darkroom.
“I use CameraPlus to make the images because it offers me the ability to focus in one place and set my exposure in another,” he wrote. “Snapseed is a kind of ‘Photoshop-light’ that allows me to work with brightness, contrast, sharpness and can convert the images to black and white if need be. The last app I use is FrameMagic, which helps me build the optics.”
Just because Somodevilla’s using Instagram or other camera apps, he doesn’t throw the basic rules of photography — composition, lighting and an interesting subject — out the window.
“As a photojournalist, I’m always looking for an image that combines good photographic basics (light, composure, etc.) and a story-telling moment,” he wrote. “Those elements drive all my searching whether I’m using a pro DSLR or my iPhone. I don’t really think of Instagram as ‘equipment.’ It’s a new and fun way to push images out to people.”
Ultimately, Somodevilla uses Instagram as a way to share with his followers the behind-the-scenes moments that might not make it onto the front page of the morning paper or news website, much like political journalists use Twitter to connect with their audience.
“People who tap on Instagram are looking for good photography,” he writes. “They are looking for an image they can connect with, showing them something they may have never seen before or showing them something they’ve seen a million times but in a new light. I’m a staff photographer for Getty Images first and foremost. I’m not using the iPhone at every assignment, duplicating what I’m shooting for our subscribers and clients. Instead, it’s a means for me to scout around the edges of a campaign and show people little moments that may only happen in the sometimes-bizarre world of national politics.”
You can check out the rest of Somodevilla’s body of Insta-work at @somophoto.
Should more photojournalists be using Instagram? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Image Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, posted here with permission
Mashable explores the trends changing politics in 2012 and beyond in Politics Transformed: The High Tech Battle for Your Vote, an in-depth look at how digital media is reshaping democracy.
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